Thursday, April 17, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Weeks 14 & 15 Touch Someone's Life

Sunday afternoon I was going through some things of my Grams that my Mom had brought for me. As I was picking items up from the box I noticed a few envelopes. Looking closer, I instantly knew what they were and my eyes started welling up with tears. 

Last year, after we found out her cancer was back, Grams had surgery right before our birthdays. We had hoped she would be out of the hospital and at my brother's by her birthday but the surgery was much more intensive than any of us knew.

Mom, My SIL, and I tried to organize a card shower for her, to encourage her and let her know that people were praying for her. I got on facebook and sent a message to some of my friends who have kids (some of whom I teach Piano to) and asked if they would be willing to draw her a picture or send her something. I remember being surprised at how excited everyone was to help. They were touched that I had reached out and asked them and were excited to help cheer her up.

Months later, when my Grams finally made it back to Indiana and I was able to see her, she told me all about the wonderful mail she had received from my friends and students.  She was so tickled by some of them, and was proud that I had such nice friends who loved me, and also thru me, her. It really meant a lot to her.

So much that she kept them.

When I opened up that box this afternoon I found three different envelopes of the sweetest, and cutest little cards and notes and pictures, notes written by the adults with prayers and scripture verses.

I read them with tears rolling down my cheeks. 

I know I talk about being a JoyGiver and how it doesn't take much and one small act of kindness can change someone's day. It didn't take much for those people to write a little note, and the kids to draw a little picture, a stamp and an address and off it went to another state to encourage someone who was going through a dark time.

I know they probably forgot about the cards, but she didn't. She kept them and would look at them often. And now, over a year later, as I deal with her death, those same cards are encouraging me. Knowing that people took time out of their busy lives to send something nice to someone they didn't know, just because their friend asked. Knowing how much it meant to her to get all of those handmade cards and drawings. She felt loved.

It doesn't take much to impact someone's life. Those cards meant so much to her, and seeing that and knowing that it made her smile, means so much to me.

Pastor Steve was speaking at church today about how we all have something to give. Whether big or small we all are equipped to help people. Will we do it? Or will we have an excuse that it takes too much time, or you're tired tonight, or you don't know that person and you would feel silly. We all have excuses. And we're great at coming up with an excuse to justify not doing something that makes us uncomfortable! But think about the benefits. What if you could touch someone's life? What if you could not only touch someone's life for a moment, but over a year later, your kindness is still impacting others? 

What is holding you back from going and doing God's will?!

Be a #JoyGiver.

Even when you're tired.

Even when it's awkward.

We're all awkward.

Awkward is normal.

Be Awkward.

Be a #JoyGiver and mean something to someone.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

That's how we do it round here...

 Brace yourself for a month+ of random pics!

Here I am on on of the warmer days of the year. I think it hit 39 and we were all ecstatic!
 Home for my Grams Memorial Service, Snugglemuffin and I entertained ourselves with Table Buddy pics while waiting on dinner. That kid is soooooooo related to me!
 After I got back to town, my apt community was.everywhere. Getting ready for a huge inspection and doing all kinds of work to the property. Everywhere I went there were workers. I was in my pj's one day and walked into my studio to see legs on my back patio. (They were replacing my storage shed door) On this day they were putting dirt out and various other landscaping items.
 I was sitting at my desk trying to have a quick bite of cheese before my next round of students came and there they were. There were men walking to, but it was hard to get a picture of them without them realizing it.
 A win day for me! I finally fit into a shirt and pants that I have had for a long time, but never worn! YEAH!!!!
 Crystal Light Pink Lemonade is the with frozen strawberries!!
 Yesterday it was rainy, but I was feelin the spring and obviously feeling my new favorite color of green!
 My hair was looking quite curly as well, thanks to the rain!
 One of my students lost her Grandpa the same day as my Grams. It's bonded us. Their family sent me a sympathy card and she wrote this to me and drew pics of them as angels. I cried. Such a sweet girl.
 We go a little crazy over spring around here, after having 60+ inches of snow this winter. Matching my pants to my sonic happy hour drink? But, of course! And no, it wasn't even Pink Weds!
 Same day. Windows open!  It's currently about 48-50 degrees and they are slightly cracked open. I need fresh air!!
 Last Saturday I took a group of students with me to a nursing home I visit and we put on an  Evening of Music. It was awesome!! Here's my outfit before and my very nervous face!
 I have all of my Grams rings and wanted to wear some that evening to bring a piece of her with me. She would have loved it, and been so proud.
 One of my students brought me a bouquet of flowers at the concert! I was SO surprised! They are so pretty and a week later, still alive and thriving! And yes, I am laying down in this pic. I had to wear shoes, obviously, and my foot was crazy swollen. (I broke my toe and injured the top of my foot.( #graceful)
 On Monday, I got new neighbors. I also said goodbye to my 2'nd slot parking space. On Tuesday I started my 30 day no complaining challenge so this blog post ends here. :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

#ChooseJoy #Joygivers365 Weeks 12 & 13 Cut the Crankiness- 30 day NO COMPLAINING Challenge!

So I've had a rough month. Or really, a rough two months. I have been sick almost non stop since the beginning of February. I'm on my 4'th round of antibiotics for a sinus infection that.just.keeps.coming.back. I've had the stomach flu, and managed to not only break one of my toes but injure the top of my foot as well.  And of course, dealing with the loss of a loved one.My life has been reminiscent of a country song in it's pathetic state.

And, Frankly, my attitude has not been pleasant. I could blame it on how miserable I have felt and the tiredness of feeling miserable months on end, but hello, I live with a Chronic Health Condition, I am frequently miserable, and my day to day health is not that of feeling well but I get by and soldier on. So I really have no one to blame for my crankiness but myself.

I realized I needed an attitude adjustment last week when I was driving back from Sonic. It was warm, like really warm, for the first time in months, I had my windows down, my pink pants on, and was drinking a cherry ice cream slush that matched my said pink pants. As I'm cruising along back to my house, some 12 year old reject from the jersey shore is beside me, bumping his "music" so loudly that my teeth were vibrating. 

That, like everything else, annoyed me. It annoyed me so much that I yelled, while holding my ice cream slush "You are NOT COOL!!!"

And then I realized my windows were down.

And that I looked like a crotchety old lady yelling at a youngster for walking on her grass.

Where are my cane and house slippers?

Thankfully, the aforementioned music was so loud he had no clue about the crazy lady yelling at him. I slunk home in my SUV and realized I needed to do something about my attitude.

I have been complaining and grouching about evvvverything, so much that I am annoying myself. I realized that was the source of my unpleasantness. COMPLAINING. Boy, have I been doing ALOT of it! Maybe not to everyone, but in my mind, I have a constant complaining channel running 24/7 like a live stream of CNN.

I knew exactly what I needed to do, and it's going to be hard, but SO worth it! 

Last year, Pastor Dave challenged us to a 21 day no Complaining Challenge leading up to Easter. I took the challenge, and didn't think I'd make it thru the first two days quite honestly! But I did, and my outlook and ATTITUDE changed so much! So I'm going to do it again, but for longer. That's right, I'm not stopping at Easter, my goal is for the whole month of April (and hopefully longer).

I am going to STOP Complaining for an entire month! And by doing so, by quitting complaining, it's going to be much easier to #ChooseJoy because it's all about your focus and thought pattern. I have not been choosing joy lately, I have been a cranky old lady in my brain, complaining at every little thing. That ends TONIGHT!

As of midnight on April 1st there will be no more complaining coming out of my mouth, and more importantly no complaining in my brain, in my comments to myself that no one else knows. 

If you see me, hear me, read me on social media, you have my permission to say HEY!! 30 Day Challenge Cherrybear! Anytime you hear me complaining! And while you're at it, will you join me in the challenge? It was an amazing journey last year and I am looking forward to doing it again and reaping the benefits of focusing on the good, no matter what!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Weeks 9, 10,11- Losing someone you Love

 I've been MIA on the blog lately. After my last post on my Grams Birthday, Feb 26, she went to be with Jesus on Feb 28, the day after my birthday. My birthday was very painful and difficult. Thankfully I have some wonderful friends who were great to try and keep me occupied and kept me from being alone most of the day.
 When we found out her cancer was back in Jan of 2013, I very clearly heard the voice of the Lord telling me that this is how we would lose her and I needed to prepare myself. It's been my goal thru the past year, especially the final 6 months of her life when she was in such bad shape, to rejoice when she went to be with Jesus. I was not rejoicing very much on my birthday, I can tell you that! Going through the day knowing that she could breathe her final breath at any moment. It was hard. It was really hard. I think having her go by our birthdays, that we had celebrated together every year of my life, was just difficult. Knowing that was coming to an end. On the other hand it does not surprise me that my Grams wanted to go to Heaven for her birthday! Seeing Jesus and my Grandpa is pretty much the greatest birthday ever!
 I got "The Call" right as I was finishing a lesson that Friday night. Instead of sorrow and pain, I actually felt JOY! Please don't read this wrong as I was happy she was gone. I am going to miss her so much! BUT, she has been bedridden for months and months, and in so much pain. She hasn't been able to really live her life. The first words that came to my mind was that she was FREE! Free from the pain and suffering and the cancer that has ravaged her body!

 As I was talking to my Mom on the phone, I realized what was happening! I shouted into the phone (sorry Mom!) DO YOU REALIZE WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW???!!! Grandma just saw Jesus! SHE IS LITERALLY FACE TO FACE WITH HIM RIGHT NOW!!!! Just realizing and imagining that, or trying to, made me want to jump out of my skin in excitement! Can you even think about how awesome that would be?? That got me teary eyed and emotional, just thinking about what was happening in Heaven at that very moment. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about that awesomeness!
After I hung up the phone, I wasn't sure what to do for a second. And then I knew. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I needed to Worship! So I worshiped the best way I know, through music.

I walked over to my Piano and sat down and played the song I was going to perform at her memorial service. "It is well with my Soul" let me tell you by the next to last page of the song I was playing so loud that people in Alaska most likely heard me.

I sat at my Piano and worshiped my face off for a good half hour. I will always treasure those moments. When I just sat down and had some time with my Savior, praising him and putting my focus on him in those moments.

March 9'th we held her Memorial service, all Glory goes to God that I was able to perform "It is well with my Soul" without crying. It was important for me to perform it for two reasons. One, My Grams was the one who started me in Piano lessons. 20 years ago she couldn't take me banging on the piano anymore, and decided I was going to take lessons so I could play properly. Literally without her I would not be who I am today! And Secondly, the words to the song really spoke to how I (wanted to) feel about her passing.

My brother gave the Eulogy, it was beautiful, funny, and so well spoken. I have never been as proud of him as I was at that moment.

So now begins life on earth without her. Grief is a funny thing, it hits when you least expect it. Although I feel Joy that she is finally free from her cancer ridden earthly body, I still miss her. I am reminded of this at unexpected moments. 

A few days ago I was going through all of my birthday and sympathy cards and accidentally opened and read the card she had written days before she passed. I sat at my desk and just cried. It was really, really hard. I had to put it away to save for a later date, just thinking about it now makes me very emotional. I miss her.

Joy comes in as a Christian we know that death is not the end, only the beginning! I am thankful that I will see her again.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Week 8- When the pain is overwhelming.

This post was written at two different times in one day. As you can see at the middle it drastically changes. I struggled with whether to share this or not. This past year I have strove to become more like Mary in Luke 2:19 "And she pondered these things in her heart" But this is my life, and the reality that my family and I are currently walking through.

This is my Birthday week. By far it is my favorite week of the year! When time gets closer and closer to 2-27, I become giddy with anticipation. I love this week.

This year, this week is not so fabulous. Life, circumstances, are all hitting on my beloved week of the year. Instead of finding myself excited for my Birthday, I almost want it to be over and huddled in a ball on my couch. I am trying to be excited and happy, but in reality I am just going through the motions and trying to get through each day.

My Grandma is in the end stages of cancer. Now we come to the real reason I am in a "funk" this week. Her birthday is the day before mine. For the past 31 years we have celebrated our birthdays together. Now I am faced with the reality that this is her last Birthday on earth. As much as she is ready for Heaven. I am not ready for her to leave me.

Later the same day..
I started writing this blog earlier in the afternoon. When I came back to finish it I found out that my Grams time on earth is much less than we anticipated. I've been crying for the past 45 mins. I just got a hold of my tears and now that i'm typing I'm sure they are going to start up again.

Through this year long journey of her cancer returning it has been my goal to rejoice when she passes and goes to Heaven. Because I know that leaving this life is not the end. Death is in fact not death when you are a believer. Her life on earth is finished but her eternal life in Heaven is just beginning.

It's hard for me to picture my life without her. For the past (almost) 32 years of my life she has always been there. I was much closer to my Grandparents than most children are, as they lived next door to my parents on the farm. The first 18 years of my life before I moved to Florida for College I saw my Grandma and Grandpa almost every day.

After College, despite moving to L-town and being an hour away from my family she remained a huge part of my life. We were as thick as thieves me and my Grandma and could often be found getting into trouble together.

I hurt for what my life is going to be like without her. I've always known, as she has told me, that she would do anything in her power for me, And she has shown that time and time again throughout my life.

So life without Grandmama (as I would call her in a french accent) is going to be hugely different. It hurts to think about her not being there Christmas morning and her and Dad "arguing" over who prayed last Christmas and whose turn it was this year.

It hurts.

But the rational side of me realizes that she is not gone. Yes, she will be gone from this earth, but I will see her again!  This may not be the most biblical, but I've began to think of Heaven as a distant land with no internet or phones. I'm going there someday, I just don't have my passport and ticket yet. Grams has her ticket and she's headed there right now.

Heaven is real.

And she is headed there.

Within a very short time she is going to see Jesus!

that deserves all caps.



I try and try but I can't even come up with an image or idea in my head of what that is going to be like!

She's going to finally be reunited with my Grandpa. I know how much she has missed him the past ten years, we all have. I'm honestly jealous that she is going to get to see him again (soon). She'll be able to see her son, my Uncle Bobby, who died when he was a teenager. He was what God used to save my Grandparents and my Mom!

So I know that death is not sad for her. She will finally be free from the pain and the intense suffering she has been through this past year. I am not sad for her.

I am sad for us. For my Mom, who is losing her last parent. For my Dad who is losing the woman who was more a mother to him than his own was. My nephew, who dearly loves his Great-Grandma Bama. My brother who would kill me if i said anything about him. And for myself. I'll never have a Grandparent watching me walk down the aisle and get married. Or have children. Our family gatherings are down to just my parents and my brother, sil and nephew.

I'm beginning to ramble now and really need to clean my glasses, the tears are getting in the way of actually being able to see.

I was googling a bible verse (yes, I google bible verses, so much easier when you're looking for a particular subject) and this verse in Philippians 1 really stood out to me. I think it pretty much says it all.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account

And to end, my favorite verse that I remind myself of whenever I am hurting. The Lord knows my hurts and he loves me. No matter what ever happens to me in life, nothing can keep me from the love of my father. He knows my hurts, he knows my pain.

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Week 7 "And all I got was a Sham-Wow..."

A little story for today's post on Joy!

This afternoon I was running some errands before teaching. I stopped at the Grocery store to pick up a few items. While I was shopping an announcement came over the loudspeaker that in two minutes there was going to be a giveaway of FREE ITEMS by the bakery. 

Well, I love free items (to put it lightly), so I strolled over to the Bakery area and found a worker girl set up with a little table and station and all kinds of products. A small crowd of us gathered close to her and she started her spiel.

The first item we received was a cleaning rag. Kind of like a sham-wow. It was pink and I was excited!

After we all got our cleaning rags she starts in on a demonstration of these incredibly nifty lids. A lid to end all lids! (I forgot my phone otherwise I would have taken a picture) Basically this lid fit on any kind of bowl, even cookware and skillets! It depressed and stuck to things like magic! She held containers with colored liquid upside down, and kept pretending she was throwing them at us, just to show how well they fastened. I was impressed!

As she's doing this cool demonstration I noticed that behind her she has HUGE packages of these lids and special add on's for them! I am SO EXCITED!!! I am literally blogging in my head at this moment, thinking what a great JoyGivers post this is going to make. I go to the grocery store and get this miracle lid that will let me throw away all of my tupperware!

As I'm head blogging I notice that she is saying that these items retail for 49.99 online. WOW! I think, this is just getting better and better!!

And then I hear what she's saying after that...

"But today, I can give them to you for the low price of 29.99! And you get this free...."

You've got to be kidding me?! It was like I walked into a real life infomercial!

And just like that all of my "Joy" deflated into a puddle of annoyance and sadness over my loss of the perfect lids known to man.

Joy is not dependent on the rise & fall of our emotions, but on the steady hope of God’s omnipotence! "

My church tweeted this last week and I've been thinking about it ever since. I think a lot of times my "JOY" is really happiness from my circumstances. It's sunny outside! YAY I'm Full of Joy! I got something free! YAY! JOY! 

And then.. someone pulls out in front of me while i'm driving and goes slower than I can walk. And just like that, there goes my "Joy"

At church right now we're doing a series on The 9, aka The Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-25. This past Sunday we were on week 3-Peace. It struck me during the sermon how much Peace and Joy really do go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other.

I filled up my bulletin with notes from the sermon, one line that stuck out to me was "Joy/Peace come from a right relationship with Christ". If you're not walking with God, and FOCUSED on him, and not on yourself, it is going to be impossible to find Joy (and Peace). Joy is not dependent on our earthly lives and happenings. 

The two verses that hit me were:

Isaiah 48:22 "But there is no peace for the wicked" says the Lord.

Job 22:21 "Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you."

Now, I don't want you to think that I am saying that everyone who is a Christian is not wicked and has this picture perfect life is pink puffy hearts and rainbows and glitter bursting everywhere. That is not the case!  The quote below says it best:

" Feb 17Peace is found not in the absence of trouble but in the favor of God. "

Do you have true Joy and Peace? Or is your happiness dependent upon your circumstances?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Week of Pink!

 Everyone who has ever worked with me is going to be shocked by this. BUT, for the first year since I was a child, I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day! That's right! No more wearing all black! Yes, I was one of THOSE people! I remember when I worked at the Tax office during college, my coworkers would always get me to break out of my black for Valentine's Day but i refused to. Well to make up for lost time, I decided to have a WEEK OF PINK!! Go big or go home!
 So we started off with Monday, I wasn't feeling so great, so I'm sporting my pink glasses, a comfy sweater, and I threw on my scarf and a sparkly headband to actually look like I tried to look decent.
 Tuesday my antibiotics were kicking in, so I looked much better! ha!
 My shirt has a really cool knot on it that you can slightly see in the right hand corner of the picture. It was a 3.00 find from a RARE trip to Walmart last summer! 
Jeans, and my cowboy boots. They are soooo comfy, however I feel like I look like Tigger when I walk in them. The heels have some bounce to them to say they least. And I walk fast.

 Wednesday, Pink Weds! Whoo!!! Is also apparently the day I wear a skirt. I usually have no wear to be, so I'm inside teaching all day, and rain or shine, snow or more snow, I can wear a skirt and tights and have it be freezing cold outside! I like this!
 I also LOVED the sun coming in!!! It's sooo nice to have the sunlight in the studio, warming it up, and bringing some cheer to our over winter hearts!
 I really struggle with what to do with my hands when I sit at the piano for pics.

Thursday. OH Thursday. My hair. My poor, huge hair! I texted this pic to Audie and told her it was a good thing it wasn't sunday or I would have to sit in the back of church so people could see. My hair was large and not so much in charge! More like out of control! Thankfully I'm getting a haircut soon. This mess needs thinned out!!
 Needless to say, I couldn't take it. My hair kept getting stuck in my sweater and I feel like I was suffocating and being strangled. I grabbed two hair clips and shoved it up. Not so cute from the back, but..
 Kinda cute from the front!!!!!! And yes, this is my normal spot where I teach. In my chair, on the right side of the piano and right next to the window. And yes, I have two fans there.
 Friday It was VALENTINE'S DAY!! And really the best I have had in over 15 years! More about that later! I really liked my socks. Random, I know. They are knee high, and while I spare you from a picture of that, i had to show this. Pink and Red stripes! The top of them had more stripes and then a cupid!
My getting ready pic. Please excuse the fact that I'm cleaning my bedroom.

 If I always look like I'm laughing in the pics by the Piano.. It's because I am! ha! Trying to not to a fake, weird smile, and look happy and pleasant. So awkward that it cracks me up! #doesnttakemuch
 Had to get in a shot of my festive socks. Also, can we just take a minute to acknowledge I am wearing a belt?!

I do like taking pictures by the windows. Natural light makes me look better! And it makes my eyes pop out. I will spare you the outtakes of me standing too close to the patio door and being blinded. #awkwardsauce

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

#ChooseJoy #Joygivers365 Week 6-Praising God in the midst of Storms

Thought I'd forgotten?!Nope,  Just a little slow on the blogging today!

I've had a few opportunities to try and #ChooseJoy this past week.

I had a really busy week last week, Friday I woke up with stabbing pains in my ear. Never a good sign. I'd been fighting off getting an ear infection for about a week and a half and I was really worried I would be miserable on Saturday, which was one of the busiest days of the week for me. I had a competition that I was accompanying a student for in the morning and then in the evening I had a concert at a Nursing home. God was gracious to me and allowed me to get thru my saturday without getting sick!

I will admit though when I woke up Sunday morning for church and couldn't breathe and felt awful, my first thought was AWWW MAN! You've got to be kidding me! I want to go to church! Our sermon is on JOY today! (ohhhh the irony!) However it just took a minute for me to realize that God had answered my prayers! He waited until I was done with all of my commitments, to have me succomb to my sickness. So while I was bummed to miss church I was very thankful for his graciousness!

I have to say as well that I am so thankful for my healthier lifestyle I have been adapting to and implementing these past few months. I am nowhere near as sick as I would normally be! I have been able to teach and carry on my normal schedule.

Yesterday, I was running errands and was listening to KLOVE in my truck as usual. "Praise you in this Storm" by Casting Crowns came on, and I attempted to sing along to it as I was driving. I say attempted, because i didn't even get the first verse out before i started crying. I cry-sang the song all the way to the parking lot of where i was going, and then had to take a few moments to compose myself before heading inside. I don't know if you have heard this song before, It holds a very special place in my heart as the Lord used it in my life during a very difficult time.

As I was cry-singing yesterday It hit me how appropriate the words were for choosing joy. Joy doesn't meant that everything in your life is perfect, people are nice to you, everyone you love is safe and well. Choosing joy comes from looking at our circumstances and realizing that God is in control. And that no matter how hard something is, or how oppressed we feel, God has us! He's got our back! And he is walking right there along side of us. He will never leave us or forsake us! I find great comfort in that! I remember when I was going through my hard time, 5 years ago, everyday, and I mean EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  at a specific time, right when i was headed to my "Storm" I would be driving and God would play this song on KLOVE. I have grown to love this song, and honestly think of it as a love song sent from the Lord just to remind me that he is there, and I need to trust him and his plan, and continue to worship him, even when the rain (or snow!) is falling.

I leave you with the lyrics:

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Week 5

Whoa! It is Week 5 already??! It's February which means my BIIRRRTTTHHDAAAYYYYY is just right around the corner! If you know me at all, you know I have a massive love for my Birthday so that itself gives me great joy!! ;)

So last week I left off with the teaser about what my Piano Studio is going to do to be #JoyGivers365. At the end of March, I am taking a group of students with me to a local retirement center/nursing home that I frequent, and we are going to put on a concert for the residents!

  For several months now, as a side part of my business, I have been visiting different nursing homes/retirement centers in the area and playing hour long concerts for the residents. In all honestly they really bless me more than I could ever bless them! 

Since I am at some particular ones once at month, I try to change things up a bit, and add some interesting things to my concerts. At Christmas I did a Musical Nativity and read Luke 2 interspersed with songs that matched up with the verses.

I was trying to think of something special to do for them, during the Holiday Free Portion of the winter we are in, and thought it would be a perfect time to have my students come! I have some students who play other instruments as well, so we are going to have a mini band concert! 

For awhile now I have been wanting to introduce service projects as part of my studio activities, I'm so excited that it is finally a reality! I want to teach my students not just about learning music and playing for themselves, but how they can use music to reach out to others, to bless someone, make someone smile. That being a Pianist is not just about you. I want them to think about how they can use their talents and abilities for someone other than themselves. 

Again, being a #JoyGivers365 does not take a super human feat! It does not always cost money, or make you do something you have no idea how to do, or can't even figure out. It's just about taking a moment to do something nice for someone else. To think about someone other than yourself.

An example of this for me was this past weekend I was entering a contest online. We've all seen the facebook contests where you have to like, share and comment on a status or picture to be entered. This particular one was a comment to enter. I commented and while doing so, some of the recent comments popped up below me. I noticed one individual said that they would like to win because they need cheered up. You could tell by her comment she was really sad over something. Now I have no idea who this person was, I can't even remember her name. But something about her comment pulled at my heart. I felt bad for her. So despite being a little afraid I would sound like a nutjob, I replied to her comment with some encouraging, kind words. I prayed for her that evening when I went to bed.

It only took a few seconds of my day to say something nice to someone who was very clearly hurting. Did it make her day better? I don't know! I hope so.

It doesn't take much to be nice to someone. To go out of your way to encourage them or just be kind. What I have found these past 5 weeks is the more that I look for ways to be kind and search out ways to bless others, the less I think about myself, and my problems. I want to cultivate an attitude of JOY in my heart, so that no matter what happens, what circumstances of life I am faced with, instead of looking at the negative and being a Davie Downer, I will see instead the blessings that God has given me and the joy in the midst of life's challenges. 

I'm not there yet, but we've got 47 weeks to go!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Week 4

Let's just be real here. I'm struggling Choosing Joy today. When I started out on this #ChooseJoy Journey I did not take into the account that the second that you decide you want to get rid of a sin in your life and focus more on God it's like a red alert goes out to Satan and he is ON YOU.

I think Satan might go to Starbucks or at least have an espresso machine because he is alive and well and quite perky at all hours of the day, and night. Good thing I serve the God who CREATED Day and Night! 

On to the week.

Last weekend I was at Payless getting some groceries and wandered down the ice cream aisle. As I was strolling by and looking into the ice boxes I noticed this paper hanging out of an ice cream treat box. So of course I had to stop and open the door to see what it was! It was a coupon for 1.25 off of the particular product. (No I did not buy it and use it!)

These coupons are printed off at the cash register and given to you when you check out. So whoever put this coupon there, received it at check out and then kept it and took it back to the store and put it where someone else could use it! I just thought that was SO COOL! 

It's just another reminder that being a #JoyGiver365 does not require a huge effort or cost! This didn't cost them anything, but whoever was craving these (expensive) ice cream bars, got a huge treat and blessing!

I coupon, and always have extra coupons that I don't use, I am going to start placing coupons around the store on items each time I head to the grocery store!

I've mentioned on here before about how I like holding doors open for people, it's just a fun very small way to put a smile on someone's face. Yesterday I was at Jimmy John's buying some day old bread, and as I walked in, two office workers were heading out with their arms full of food. I purposely stood there and held the door open for them both to go through. They were so surprised and grateful! It might have only been 3 degrees outside but both of their smiles warmed me up!

This week I have been working on a way for my Piano Studio to get in on the #JoyGivers365 and next week I will share some details on what we will be doing!

Monday, January 27, 2014


The moment I laid eyes on Katy Perry's Grammy's dress I had the feeling I had seen it somewhere before...

Oh yes, that's right, I wore the homeschooled version back in the 90's to a Music Competition as well.

I'm not saying she looks to me for style inspiration, I'm just sayin.. I wore it first!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#ChooseJoy #JoyGivers365 Week 3

I apologize for being a day late in my posting, yesterday I had a fever and was feeling pretty puny. BUT in the spirit of choosing joy, the happy thing about this is that the fever was my body fighting off a sickness! YEAH!!!! My regimen of numerous vitamins, supplements, probiotics and sanitizing every inch of my studio is finally helping protect me from my wonderful, albeit  germy students :)

I've had several moments over the past week where I have been able to see very clearly how God has put certain things together to bless me in the difficult time my family is currently walking through.

Last Wednesday night I had a rough night and finally broke down and cried. Needless to say Thursday my soul was spent, my eyes were swollen and puffy and I was just struggling.

Life goes on, so I, of course needed to teach my lessons.

My late afternoon student came, and brought me the sweetest, unexpected treat.

Chocolate in Cookies, on a Pink plate. If that isn't a sign from Jesus I don't know what is. 

It was such a #JoyGivers365 thing for them to do, and yet, they had no clue! They had no idea of what is going on in my family, or the hard day I was having. They just wanted to do something nice for me. I think that is such message from God that we don't always know what he's going to use us for. We don't even realize alot of times that we are bringing Joy to someone else, or giving them something to smile about in the midst of the pain that they are going through, that we don't know about.

It was such an encouragement to my soul. And really a charge to me to go that extra mile and do something nice for someone.

And by the way, the cookies were DELICIOUS. And totally gone the next day. ;)

So my challenge for this week is: If you feel a tiny urge within you to do something nice for someone, no matter how big or small. DO IT. Take someone cookies, open the door for someone, stop to ask a cashier or a drive thru person GENUINELY ASK how their day is going. God can use you to encourage and love on people, even if you don't realize it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#BoilerUP #PrayforPurdue

Y'all. I'm not even sure where to begin today. .

I kind of feel like I have felt every emotion all in the span of one afternoon.

Around noon I was in my bedroom getting ready for the day and my first lesson. My phone started going off with text after text. I checked it and was shocked (to say the least) to see that there was a shooting at Purdue and the campus was on lockdown.

I know everyone says it, but you really don't expect things like this to happen where you live. Where you've worked. Where your brother went to school, where you spent hours upon hours in Mackey Arena cheering on the women's basketball team, where your friends work, where your students work and attend. It just doesn't happen. At least it shouldn't.

At first I didn't realize the scope of it. I was emailing Audra to make sure her husband was ok and not near the event. I was thinking it was scary but thank goodness no one I knew was in the EE building.

Until it hit me.

Someone I know, and love is in that building.

I can't describe the terror that shot through every nerve ending in my body when I realized B. was inside the EE building. I started shaking and could barely get my fingers to text my Mom to tell her to pray and alert my other friends.

I can say I am SO thankful for technology, I took a chance and tried texting B with my still shaking fingers to see if she would or even could respond. 

It felt like a lifetime until I heard that ringtone go off and I knew it was her. Tears immediately started streaming down my face and all I could say was Thank you Jesus, Thank You JESUS!! In fact, that Is actually what I texted her!  She was hiding in her office and not able to make any noise but she was still able to text! 

I was glad to know to she safe but I really didn't take a deep breath until I knew that she was out of lockdown and out of the building a few hours later.

Thankfully my student who works there, and my friend's husband were both safe and sound and not near the event.

I really don't have anything perfect to say to wrap this up. I'm still processing what happened and that it happened here. Here in my town. My home. I leave you with this...